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Nine fun things to do in Italy in February 2022

There are only 28 days in February this year and the calendar is jam-packed with fun things to do in Italy. Read our selection of some of the best events and activities.

Venice's February Carnevale celebrations are a highlight of the year.
Venice's February Carnevale celebrations are a highlight of the year. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

With its short days and grim weather, February can be a difficult month. 

Fortunately, there is lots going on to keep you entertained.

Here’s our pick: 

Visit one of Rome’s world-class museums for free

Following a Covid-induced hiatus, free museum days have returned to Rome, with the capital’s civic museums open to all free of charge on the first Sunday and the Vatican’s museums on the last Sunday of every month.

On February 6th, anyone in the city will be able to access the likes of the Capitoline Museums, Ara Pacis, and Trajan’s Market without spending a centesimo; while the Vatican opens its museums’ doors free to the public on February 27th.

READ ALSO: The best events and festivals in Italy in 2022

Visits to the civic museums must be booked in advance by calling 060608 by the Friday before (February 4th), or going to a Tourist Infopoint. A free visit to the Vatican museums can’t be booked – you’ll need to arrive early in the morning and should expect to queue up for several hours.

Remember that Italy now requires a ‘super green pass’ Covid health certificate, or its equivalent in the form of a foreign-issued vaccination certificate (digital or print-out) to access all tourist and cultural sites, as well as hotels, restaurants, public transport, and most other leisure venues and services.

Twirl your ballgown at the Venice carnival

Italy is famed for its carnivals that unfold in towns and cities across the country in February, and none is more celebrated than Venice’s two-week-long jamboree.

After dressing up to the nines in full rococo regalia, attendees can ride a gondola down the Grand Canal to attend the Grand Masquerade Ball at Palazzo Pisani Moretta and stuff themselves with fried treats like frittelle Veneziane.

This year’s festivities will take place from February 12th to March 1st. This year’s programme will be somewhat reduced because of Covid.

READ MORE: Venice Carnival: What you need to know about attending in 2022

Masked revellers pose for a photo during Venice’s carnival celebrations.

Masked revellers pose for a photo during Venice’s carnival celebrations. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Marvel at the Viareggio carnival’s papier-mâché floats

Venice isn’t the only Italian city to be found partying up a storm in February.

Every year the Tuscan coastal town of Viareggio holds a spectacular parade that sees masked participants carry hundreds of papier-mâché floats up to 70 feet high along the seafront to music and dancing.

Over the course of the festival, plays are performed in the local dialect around the city, and all-night masked parties are held in bars and hotels on the weekends. The event annually attracts crowds of 500,000. 

This year’s celebrations will be held from February 12th to March 5th. Because of the event’s popularity, tickets must be bought in advance here.

Mock the rich at Acireale’s carnival

Our last top pick for Italian carnivals to attend this year is the one held in Acrireale, Sicily.

Papier-mâché floats also feature in this parade; although here, there’s a particular focus on puppets that caricature and satirise political and public figures. Floats featuring elaborate cascades of flowers and sparking LED lights are also part of the spectacle.

Acrireale’s festivities also once featured the throwing of rotten eggs, oranges and lemons in the street, but (perhaps luckily for less intrepid visitors) the custom was banned in 1612.

Like Venice’s, Acireale’s Carnivale this year will be held from February 12th to March 1st.

These are three of Italy’s most famous carnevale celebrations, but many more take place throughout the month of February that are worth your time; have a look online to see what’s happening in your area.

A scene from Acireale's Carnival.
A scene from Acireale’s Carnival. Photo by Malega/Flickr

Eat a sweet treat at the Feast of Sant’Agata

If you’re planning on seeing Arcireale’s carnival, consider stopping by a few days earlier to attend the Feast di Sant’Agata in nearby Catania.

The festival commemorates Saint Agatha, a pious girl from a noble family who, legend has it, cut off her own breasts and subsequently martyred herself to escape the advances of a lecherous governor.

The three-day long festivities usually involve processions, firework displays, general carousing, and cassatelle or minne di Sant’Agata – ricotta-filled sponges designed to look like the saint’s amputated bosoms.

The festival takes place every year between February 3rd and February 5th; note that this year, as a result of the pandemic, a stripped-down version of the event is being held, with a greater focus on the religious and ceremonial elements.

Attend a candlelit concert in Milan 

If you like the idea of being serenaded by candlelight (and aren’t put off by a little corniness), Milan’s Casa Cardinale Ildefonso Schuster is hosting a series of romantically-lit night time concerts throughout the month of February.

String quartets, pianists and jazz musicians will play music from the likes of Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone Coldplay and Taylor Swift.

Most days will see the 16th century structure host two concerts – one at 8pm and another at 10pm. Tickets can be bought online here.

The Siegfried quintet group performs "The Four Seasons" by candlelight at the Milanese pastoral center in Milan on May 7, 2021.
The Siegfried quintet group performs “The Four Seasons” by candlelight at the Milanese pastoral center in Milan on May 7, 2021. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)

Go bargain hunting at an antiques market

Whether you fancy yourself a true collector or just enjoy foraging for hidden treasures and curios, an Italian antiques market is the place for you.

Italy has a wealth of markets to choose from in February: whether it’s the one held in Sabbioneta, Lombardy on February 6th, which promises paintings, musical instruments, and games from a bygone era; Verona’s monthly antiques fair, scheduled for 8am-5pm on the same date in Piazza San Zeno, which will be Valentine’s themed; Turin’s Gran Balon flea market in Porta Palazzo on February 13th, which offers vintage items and collectibles; or Vicenza’s antiques fair, scheduled for the same date, you’re bound to find something for you or your Valentine.

Spend St Valentine’s Day somewhere romantic

You probably learned in school that St Valentine was a third-century Roman, and Italy is nothing if not proud and a little possessive of its historical figures and traditions (‘Is St. Valentine’s Day celebrated outside of Italy?’ pondered the news outlet Adnkronos in a recent article).

What better place than Italy, then, to spend your Valentine’s Day weekend. The rolling hills of Tuscany, the rugged landscapes of Matera, or the snow-capped mountains of the Dolomites are all atmospheric settings for a romantic late-winter getaway.

If you prefer your Valentine’s celebrations a little more camp and crowded, Verona in Love (February 11th-14th) might just be the event for you.

This three-day function features a range of love-themed exhibits and activities, and sees the streets and squares of Verona (famous as the setting for Romeo and Juliet) filled with live concerts and markets. There are also foodie events and cut-price entry to some attractions, including Juliet’s house. 

READ ALSO: Three stories of finding love in Italy that will restore your faith in romance

Go to a chocolate festival

Chocolate lovers in Italy have a couple of different options this February.

If you’re near Asiago, Veneto towards the start of the month, head to the Art & Ciocc festival that sees chocolatiers from Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, Umbria, Calabria, and Sicily showcase their creations in Piazza Carli over the course of four days from February 3rd-6th.

Chocolate creations on display at the 3rd Chocolate Fair in Milan on February 15, 2018.
Chocolate creations on display at the 3rd Chocolate Fair in Milan on February 15, 2018. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP

As well as traditional confections, gluten-free, organic, vegan, sugar-free and fine raw chocolate will be on offer.

Milan is putting on the Choco Experience festival in Piazza Città di Lombardia between February 24th and 27th. The event promises market stands selling chocolate-based products, as well as workshops, cooking demonstrations, children’s entertainment and wine pairings; entrance is 5 euros, or free to under-12s.

February also usually sees Florence host its annual Fiera del Cioccolato Artigianale chocolate festival: while no programme has been announced this year, its website says “we’ll see you in 2022” – so keep an eye out for something later in the year.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that a calcio storico ‘historic football’ match would take place in Florence on February 17th, 2022. This is incorrect: this year’s tournaments are expected to be held on the usual dates in June. The Local apologises for the error.

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How Italy has changed in two years of the Covid-19 pandemic

It's been two years since the first Covid-19 lockdowns were declared in Italy and life was irrevocably altered in a range of ways; some obvious, some subtle. The Local's journalists look at what's changed about life in the country since late February 2020.

How Italy has changed in two years of the Covid-19 pandemic

It may be hard to believe, but two full years have now passed since Italy began to lock down towns in northern Italy after Europe’s first known outbreaks of coronavirus were confirmed.

By early March 2020, Italy had become the first Western country to declare a nationwide lockdown.

In the intervening two years, Italy has been through a lot – and we think it’s fair to say that the country will never be quite the same again.

Not all of the changes are negative, however.

As we look ahead to the gradual easing of Italy’s remaining restrictions and the return of a more normal life in the coming weeks and months, here’s a look at some of the ways in which Italian culture and society has changed.

Less kissing, more personal space

Is the famous Italian two-kiss greeting gone for good?

While you might still give a close friend or a family member a little peck on the cheek, gone are the days where you’d stand in a circle knocking jowls with people you’d met just moments before.

In fact, the concept of personal space in general is now better understood and more widely practiced in Italy than it ever was in the past – whether it concerns touching between acquaintances, or crowding at the post office.

READ ALSO: Eight things the Covid crisis has taught us about Italy

That’s not to say people are now keeping their distance at all times. But generally speaking, in public spaces most people are still keen to avoid pressing up against one another even in situations where social distancing is no longer really monitored.

This means ticketing systems have in many areas replaced queues – and where they do exist, lines are far more likely to be respected, with healthy gaps maintained between the people forming them.

A sign reminds people to observe distancing measures at a cinema in Rome – The sight of people forming an orderly, distanced queue is no longer unusual in Italy. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

This new awareness of and respect for personal space will be a striking difference for anyone returning to Italy for the first time since the pandemic began.

If you weren’t a fan of touchy-feely Italian behaviour before, no doubt this will come as a relief – while those who enjoyed these affectionate customs may find this a sad development.

Life in Italy is becoming (a bit) more digital.

We wouldn’t go as far as to describe it as a digital revolution, but the pandemic has certainly accelerated Italy’s adoption of online processes.

This is still Italy we’re talking about, and digital is by no means king – but it’s made some noticeable strides in the last two years.

If you need a document from your comune, or town hall, you can now in most cases access it for free online rather than having to block out an entire afternoon to go in person to collect a copy.

People are also much more amenable to the idea of checking – and answering – emails than was the case pre-pandemic, when nothing less than a phone call (ideally followed up by an in-person meeting) would get you any attention.

READ ALSO: How Italy has made it easier to access essential paperwork online

Similarly, more information is also now made available online, whereas before you may have been expected to go to an office in person to get even the most mundane questions answered.

You’re also more likely now to be offered the option of paying by contactless card, even for smaller sums, where cash is traditionally preferred.

This is not only due to people preferring card transactions amid the pandemic for hygiene reasons: the Italian government has introduced a number of measures within the past two years to encourage (and in some cases require) electronic payments, as part of a push to crack down on widespread tax evasion.

Take-out is much more widely available

While a good number of restaurants in Italy’s major towns and cities offered takeaway food and drinks before the pandemic, this is now standard all over the country.

Some places even got creative, offering to deliver pre-packaged, par-cooked box meals you could easily finish at home with the help of online videos.

Realising that the big delivery companies were taking a significant chunk of their profit, a few establishments set up their own delivery systems (if you want to order from somewhere, it’s worth calling them directly first to check whether they offer this).

It’s not just restaurants that have expanded their take-out offering; home delivery in general is more of an option these days.

If you need to order groceries to your house, for example, more supermarkets now let you book a slot online without too much hassle.

This has been a major change for people in smaller towns and more rural parts of the country, where ordering food and drink – particularly coffee – to take away was previously seen as somewhat unusual and undesirable.

Getting your cappuccino to go is now commonplace, even in parts of Italy where this was previously unheard of, and you might even be asked which you prefer when you make your order.

Although whether or not your coffee tastes just as good from a takeout cup is another question – one we know many Italians will have an opinion on.

E-scooter and e-bike craze

Foreign visitors coming to any Italian city after a two-year hiatus are liable to be immediately struck by one thing: Italy has whole-heartedly climbed aboard the monopattino (scooter) revolution wagon.

When the country started to reopen after the first wave of Covid, people looked for ways to travel around their city without being crammed into poorly-ventilated buses and trams, and app-controlled motorised scooters (and bikes) offered themselves up as the answer.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Italy’s electric scooter craze

Electric scooters have become a common sight on the streets of Rome since 2020. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

While a switch to bikes and scooters were already fairly popular in other parts of Europe, Italy had remained stubbornly reliant on cars as the main mode of transportation, including in large cities.

The sudden onset of Italy’s electric scooter fever was fueled in 2020 by the government’s offer (now expired) of up to 500 euros towards the purchase price of a brand new e-bike or scooter for residents of Italian cities.

Street corners quickly became littered with discarded scooters, and pedestrians were suddenly imperiled by riders whizzing by on pavements at 25 km/h – problems which the government has since tried to resolve (with varying degrees of success) by introducing new laws to regulate this brave new mode of transportation.

Returning visitors might also notice that additional bike and scooter lanes have popped up in some cities to accommodate this extra traffic.

Construction and renovation boom

Policies brought in to support Italy’s economic recovery from the pandemic have prompted a (small-scale) construction boom.

It’s not the kind you’ll notice wandering the streets, however, as we’re talking less about erecting skyscrapers than about private homeowners earthquake-proofing their walls and putting solar panels on their roofs, as well as in some cases embarking upon rebuilding and renovation projects.

In May 2020, the government launched its ‘superbonus‘ home improvement and renovations scheme, which promised homeowners a tax deduction of up to 110 percent of the cost of making energy upgrades and reducing seismic risk. 

Unsurprisingly, this prompted a surge in demand that Italy’s building companies have been unable to meet.

READ ALSO: Which of Italy’s building bonuses have been extended into 2022?

Construction firms, engineers and surveyors reported being overwhelmed by the sheer number of enquiries about the offer – many of which come to nothing once homeowners discovered that few people are eligible for the full 110 percent rebate.

Significant savings are still possible, though, and many property owners did go ahead with renovations – often only to face long delays to their projects.

Despite these problems, the policy has had the desired effect of boosting the country’s sluggish economy, with its construction sector recording investments of more than €9 billion under the scheme by November 2021.

The building ‘superbonus’ and ‘ecobonus’ schemes are still available in 2022, along with various other tax incentives for homeowners planning a renovation.

And despite the pandemic’s shake-up of the property market, house prices in Italy actually rose during 2021 overall, while a government scheme (that runs until June 30th, 2022) to help first-time buyers under the age of 36 purchase a house enabled many young Italians to leave their parental home for the first time.

Italy’s population crisis has worsened

Italy has long had one of the lowest birth rates in Europe, and the situation has only been worsened by the coronavirus crisis.

In 2020 the Italian population shrank by almost 400,000 — roughly the size of the city of Florence — as deaths peaked, births fell to a new record low, and immigration slowed.

Many blame the ongoing birthrate crisis at least partially on the sluggish economy, the rising cost of living, and lack of financial support available for new parents.

In response, the Italian government has vowed to give more support to women and families and has since begun offering various forms of child support for the first time. In 2022, the government  introduced a universal single allowance.

Have you noticed any other changes to life in Italy which are not mentioned in this article? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.